Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival Review: Not Very Festive

I love Animal Crossing. I have since the first North American release on the Nintendo GameCube back in 2002. And since then, the property has expanded to the Nintendo DS and 3DS systems, as well as a Wii version. But with the newest Nintendo game console, Nintendo has yet to bring out a new core game in the storied franchise. Instead, fans are given games like Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival, which is more like Mario Party than it is a full-fledged AC game.

While there was opportunity to really do something unique here, as in, say, a Fortune Street-type of experience, instead, Nintendo opted to use forced amiibo functionality and then stripped away everything that makes Animal Crossing fun, replacing it with a tired board game motif that bores the player very quickly, and leaves long-time fans yearning for a return to the simulated village life.

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival review

Each player begins the game by choosing an Animal Crossing amiibo, and the actual amiibo is used to roll the dice by tapping it on the NFC spot on the Wii U’s gamepad. The gamepad is passed around to each player on their turn. The gamepad’s screen is used sparingly for certain parts of the game, usually to buy turnips or to choose a card in Katrina’s tent, but not much else.

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival uses 12 boards — one for each month — and players (from 1-4) take a turn each day on the calendar, collecting bells and happy points just by landing on spots that have those rewards listed. Each spot has a little story element, explaining how and why the player earned/lost bells. Some spots take away the bells and happy points, and once a week, a couple of classic Animal Crossing visitors show up, which opens up character-specific spots that can earn more (or lose more) depending on the character.

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival review

There are four gyroids at each corner of the map, and crossing each gyroid space next the player a stamp. Get all four, and the reward is huge. Joan even shows up on Sundays and sells turnips, and each spot has a “sell turnip” option with varying prices. This is essentially the game. Play between 28 (for February only) and 31 days/turns, and see who has the most happy points at the end. All bells are converted to happy points at the end of the game.

There is some uniqueness in the game during the bug and fishing tournaments, which awards a bug or fish based on the spots the player lands on, and at the end, the best bug/fish is awarded more bells and happy points. It’s completely random what bug/fish a player will “catch” on what spot, but once the competition is over for the month, the game rides out the rest of the days in a very lackadaisical way. There are no mini game components — until later, and we’ll get to that — so after 12 play-throughs, everything in the core game can be seen and done, and there is really no incentive to go back and replay a month.

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival review

All data, including bells and happy points earned, are saved to the Animal Crossing amiibo piece, and it does accumulate, helping the character gain levels, and with levels come new outfits and the like, but the grind to get Tom Nook out of his boring sweater and into something better isn’t worth it — and I say this as a long-time fan.

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival review

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival also comes with three unique Animal Crossing trading cards, and these card are used to unlock up to eight mini-games that can be accessed after playing at least one month of the main game. These mini-games are more in-line with the types of time killers found in a Mario Party game, and with only eight to choose from, they get old really quick.

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival, much like the earlier released Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, is Nintendo’s way of trying to capitalize on one of their franchises without really creating a new game for that franchise. Sure, it looks like Animal Crossing, and sounds like Animal Crossing, but it lacks the heart and soul of the core games, and seeing some of the beloved AC characters in glorious HD on the Wii U just makes me long for a full-on core experience, and not a quickly-put-together shell of a game. The Wii U’s time may be ending soon, and that means a true Animal Crossing game never made it to Nintendo’s fun little system. And perhaps that is the greatest crime of them all.

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival is available now exclusively on the Nintendo Wii U. This review is based off a copy of the game purchased at retail.

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival review
out of 5

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